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   Jan 25

The great e-cigarette debate rages on: Experts clash over their safety as more pubs and restaurants ban them

Some people think they are much safer than traditional cigarettes and that they could save millions of lives if all smokers switched to them

Others think there is insufficient regulation of their production

Many people feel more research is required before they can be deemed safe

Lots of pubs and restaurants have banned them to avoid confusion

McDonald’s, Wetherspoons and The Slug and Lettuce have all banned e-cigarettes as the debate about their safety rages on.

While some people maintain that electronic cigarettes are infinitely preferable to traditional cigarettes, others are deeply concerned about the long term effects they could have on people’s health.

This debate is the subject of ITV’s Tonight programme this evening.

There is heated debate about the safety of e-cigarettes as some people believe them to be a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes while others are deeply concerned about them

It shows that on one side some cancer experts think the electronic alternative to cigarettes could save millions of lives, while other people are seriously worried about them.

An estimated 1.3 million people in the UK are thought to use e-cigarettes.

The majority of them buy products that are manufactured in China where there is very little regulation of their production.

Long Xiaobing, CEO of an e-cigarette company in Shenzhen, Southern China, makes ten million e-cigarettes a year.

He told the programme: ‘Currently, lots of products in this market are not regulated and products vary in quality.’

Another e-cigarette maker, Hua Ou, added: ‘There is no standard available to regulate them. So the market is in a bit of chaos now.

The E-Cigarette advert with over 900 complaints

A poll revealed that 33 per cent of British people think it is socially unacceptable to smoke e-cigarettes in public

‘Currently many e-cigarettes are quite made similar, with low quality. These are very serious problems.’

Both manufacturers insist their own products are good quality, yet they are well placed to make judgements on the wider market.

The World Health Organisation is also extremely concerned about the growing popularity of e-cigarettes.

Glenn Thomas of the WHO told Tonight: ‘We still need more research to know and understand what sort of impact on health and people these e-cigarettes are having.

‘We know that a lot of the toxins which are consumed through e-cigarettes have not been adequately researched.’

Some experts think millions of lives could be saved each year if all smokers swapped traditional cigarettes for e-cigarettes

The WHO looked at 85 countries and discovered that, currently, more than a third have a total ban on e-cigarettes, almost 40 per cent won’t allow them to be sold to children and only 15 per cent of countries have conducted scientific research into them.

Despite so many countries showing concerns about the devices, some experts believe they are a lesser evil when compared to traditional cigarettes.

Professor Robert West, from Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Cigarettes at the moment are killing in the region of six million people every year.

‘Can you imagine if every one of those cigarette smokers used an electronic cigarette instead – we would see the death toll drop.

‘You are talking about potentially saving millions of lives a year – a public health benefit we could hardly have dreamed of years ago.’

He added: ‘While you get people say that we don’t know yet whether e-cigarettes are safe, the answer is we know what the ingredients are that are within them and we know that those are, nothing is perfectly safe, but compared with a cigarette they are 100 times safer if not more.’

Kingsley Wheaton from British American Tobacco said: ‘We agree there needs to be more long term studies of the use of e-cigarettes.

‘We believe that as they are today – and we believe that there are various part of the scientific community that would agree with us – that they provide a substantially safer alternative to smoking a traditional cigarette.’

Regardless of the health impacts, many of Britain’s biggest companies have felt required to ban e-cigarettes because they look too similar to the tobacco versions.

Kate McGown from McDonalds said: ‘Owing to the fact that e-cigarettes can be very realistic and customers may naturally assume that someone is actually smoking on our premises, we do not permit use of e-cigarettes in our UK restaurants.’

Newcastle’s Metrocentre and Lakeside in Essex have the same policy.

Karen Can, of Metrocentre, said: ‘We made this decision to avoid any confusion to shoppers and security staff as they can look very realistic from a distance.’

Many leading pub and restaurant chains have banned e-cigarettes to avoid confusion because they look too similar to traditional cigarettes

The Slug and Lettuce pub chain has recently followed Wetherspoons in a ban, saying:

‘Given their remarkable likeness to cigarettes, their use can cause concern amongst other customers and staff.’

The vast Mitchells & Butlers pub chain, which includes Harvester, O’Neills, All Bar One and Browns, told the Tonight programme: ‘Although we realise that the fumes are just vapours and non-harmful this is not clearly understood by everyone and can lead to confusion.’

It seems the position of these companies is in keeping with the views of many Britons.

Some 33 per cent say that it is not socially acceptable to smoke an e-cigarette in public while 42 per cent think they set a bad example.

Furthermore, 45 per cent of people say e-cigarettes should not be allowed in indoor public places and 12 per cent say they do not really know what an e-cigarette is.

The Rise of the E-Cigarette: Tonight will air on ITV at 7.30pm this evening.

Source: Daily Mail

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